The Sherburne County Board of Commissioners has a different look this year. Former Sherburne County Sheriff Bruce Anderson, who defeated Larry Farber in November’s election, was sworn in as the newest commissioner (Dist. 1) during the first county board meeting of 2013. Judge Thomas Hayes administered the oath of office to Anderson and commissioners Rachel Leonard, Felix Schmiesing and John Riebel, who were all re-elected last November. “There’s no greater honor for any citizen than to serve as a representative for their community,” said Hayes. “And I can think of no greater responsibility than serving as an elected representative.” Once the meeting began, the board elected Commissioner Leonard as 2013 chair and Commissioner Riebel as vice-chair. They were also elected as chair and vice-chair of the Regional Rail Authority and the Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Great Northern Trail The Great Northern Trail in Sherburne County took a giant leap forward Tuesday with the addition of a large section of abandoned railway bed. The board of commissioners approved an easement from Elk River Landfill that adds a quarter mile (8.9 acres) to the existing trail. The county has been acquiring land along the abandoned rail line for years to try to connect a trail from Elk River to Princeton. Elk River already has 4.5 miles of paved trails within city limits. The county has purchased a significant section south of Zimmerman already. Elk River Landfill agreed to grant a perpetual easement on the remaining stretch for $10. Completing the segment adds another three miles to the trail, which will be continuous from Co. Rd. 1 in Elk River to Zimmerman. Commissioner Bruce Anderson, who has been negotiating for the county with property owners along the trail, said it would have cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars if they had to purchase the land. Commissioner Rachel Leonard, who is adamantly against using eminent domain to acquire land for trails, said it was a wonderful addition. “I’m always glad we can either buy it (land) at the assessed value or have gracious people donate it the way they did,” she said. Public Comment During the public comment period, Elaine Philippe of Baldwin Twp. said she was upset that the commissioners voted themselves a two percent raise. “I see a lot of businesses are empty. Lots of houses are foreclosed and lots of us are struggling,” she said. Philippe said at the supermarket some of the employees are upset because their hours are being cut. One employee hadn’t had a raise in five years and had to give up two weeks of vacation. “I think you get my point here,” she said. She said her suggestion would be for the commissioners to work towards a decrease in next years levy. But she commended Commissioner John Riebel, who voted against the raise.